There are lots of bad things that you can put into your body in various ways. The worst of those things all seem to be represented in physical form as white powder. I intensely dislike drugs, with a passion. I’ve personally seen up close how drugs can corrode the human mind and completely warp a person's psyche until they've split into someone else. Something else entirely. Those people become ghosts of their former selves. Strangers looking into the mirror of someone lost and forgotten.


So, at the ripe old age of 16, I made a vow to never become addicted.


"Good plan, myself! Way to go, just making a plan without a plan." If only I had realized I was already addicted when I made that vow.

Here is my vice: living in the past.


It's needless to say, but we all know that there are two types of people who go into a war. The ones who die fighting for the cause and the ones who survive the battle and become stronger from the experience. Well, there's a third type that we don't like to talk about. The ones who become addicted to the heaviness of their past so much so that they can't let go of it. They live their lives replaying memories, using their past as a place of residence, not of reference.


I became the person who found it easier to embrace their pain rather than become the person willing to face the uncertainty of moving forward. What is forward, really, when all you can see when you look ahead is a giant rear-view mirror?


Long story short, the battle of life taught be one of its greatest lessons:


You can dwell on your own mortality with something to live for, laugh about and love, or not. Something worth fighting for always makes the battle of life worth fighting. It's when you have a seemingly impossible goal to strive for, that your life truly begins.


For myself, dedicating time to help those in need of guidance and a nudge in the right direction makes the most sense. I've recently started working for a crisis center. This isn't the first time I've done work like this, but it's the first time I've seen myself the most capable of being what others need me to be; I need to be for others what I so desparately needed during the lowest points in my life. A voice of reason and unconditional support, reminding me of who I am and not this thing I think I'm becoming at the hands of either trauma, anxiety or depression.


One of the biggest challenges is... Detachment.


Do you know what the hardest part about helping someone who's drowning is? That they'll drown you. It's true. You have to make sure that you're at 100% performance because those people may not and often do not have anyone else they can confide in. As much as it is heartbreaking, it's a warning I must heed. Their life is essentially in your hands. Mental Health is something you do not want to take lightly.


One of the more broader lessons...


Learning that the root cause of suffering is attachment really helped me see things in a better light.


In many ways, the spiritual path is about learning how to let go of the clouds, and coming to identify with the space. It’s about releasing our contraction, our grip on the thoughts and emotions that flow through our mind, and relaxing into the spacious awareness within which those thoughts and emotions arise. We are the sum of our thoughts and emotions. What else is there? It’s about dis-identifying with who we are not (any thought or emotion) and coming to identify with who we truly are.


Simply put, identities aren't real and feelings and emotions are often blind spots. You are water taking shape of whatever you allow your mind to pour itself into. Think depressing thoughts and you become depression. Think good thoughts and you are good. You aren't any one thing. You are a collection of everything you hold onto for longer than necessary.


Exercise the act of exercising.


As important as mental health is, making sure that you're in peak physical health is crucial as well.


I do about fifteen minutes of meditation per day, but something new I picked up recently was a yoga position entitled: Setu Bandhasana Sarvangasana. The Supported Bridge Pose, as seen below.





The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen your back and to stretch the entire front-side of your body.


For the first few days, I tried this pose without support and learned a spiritual lesson.


Every challenge or level of heaviness and difficulty has a certain level of push-back that you must learn to resist. I so badly wanted to leave Bridge Pose and just lay flat so as to rest, but I fought my urges and pushed past the discomfort. If you truly must, you have to also bend to your experiences and give in, only to find another way towards success: the supported bridge pose.


Don't allow your passion to be your weak spot.

For many years, especially when I was very young, I’d been more than happy to work for free or even at a loss as long as the work was interesting. That's because I was so totally in love with being a creator, not only a consumer.


This set me up for a series of relationships that - retrospectively - I can surely classify as abusive. I would often do work for compensation that was well below its actual value.


What does this have to do with the rest of the post?


It's all interconnected, really.


My vice led to a ripple effect in my life which I used as a crutch instead of as a tool to come out on top.


Now that I finally have a good head on my shoulders, everything I do adds to my arsenal of personal and professional growth.